Well, in April, the automakers whiffed in the Supreme Court and were told that carbon emissions from autos are a pollutant that must be regulated under the Clean Air Act. In September, the automakers swung and missed as a Vermont Judge upheld the right of California and other states to adopt clean car standards that go beyond current federal regulations.
The Mighty Casey that is the automaker legal team pretty much got caught looking at strike 3, as Federal District Court Judge Anthony Ishii in Fresno rejected U.S. automakers' claims that federal law pre-empts the state standards and threw out their case.
You can read our full statement about this decision in our press release, but the most pertinent current action this applies to are the last ditch efforts by automakers and their allies in the Senate and administration to use the improved fuel economy standards in the Energy Bill as a tool to block the EPA and the states from trying to move forward on regulating global warming pollution from autos.
Seems these folks aren’t quite getting the message blaring from the courts. The Supreme Court’s ruling was pretty clear on this, saying, “EPA has been charged with protecting the public’s “health” and “welfare,” a statutory obligation wholly independent of the Department of Transportation’s mandate to promote energy efficiency.” The key is this: the 35 miles per gallon by 2020 standard is a good stepping stone to move forward on oil security while providing a needed push forward on carbon reduction in the automotive sector. That said, it should be seen as a complimentary policy, NOT A REPLACEMENT, to the EPA’s primary job under the Clean Air Act and states’ legal rights to move beyond EPA regulations by following California’s lead.
Given New Mexico’s recent adoption of the clean car standards, and the emerging interest coming from states such as Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, and Montana, a small minority of recalcitrant interests should simply not be able to stop the forward movement we have seen from the states, the courts, and the majority of Congress.
Let’s hope common sense wins the day. Looks like we’ll have another Senate vote on the Energy Bill sometime today.
Posted by: ScottN